Small guitar amps have come a long way in the last few years. These amps now offer better tone, as well as effects, output options, and more. Additionally, they have also gotten smaller, lighter, and more durable. What’s not to like?
For many people, the need for a small guitar amp is obvious, as they offer the chance to practice in basically any situation and context. Whether you live with roommates, a small child, a significant other, or family members, the best small guitar amps allow you to practice without disturbing the peace.
Most of these amps also come with a headphone out in case silent practice is a must. And there are plenty of options out there, from nearly every brand. With so many choices, how do you know what to get? We’re here to help. Keep reading.
- Best Small Guitar Amps: Our Top 3
- Best Small Guitar Amps: Individual Reviews
- How To Choose The Best Small Guitar Amp For You
- Final Thoughts on The Best Small Guitar Amps
Best Small Guitar Amps: Our Top 3
The Boss Katana Mini is our top choice for this list. This 7-watt combo amp comes with a multi-stage analog gain circuit for great sound and convenience while practicing. With three distinct voicings and built-in EQ, you get a flexible amp with tonal variety.
The Danelectro Honeytone N-10 is our budget choice. This mini amp features the classic Danelectro look and vibe and comes with a belt clip that allows you to carry it around while you practice.
Finally, the Positive Grid Spark Mini is our Editor’s Choice. This portable amp gives you 10 Watts of power and features a dual-speaker design for omnidirectional sound for discerning guitarists that value quality.
Best Small Guitar Amps: Individual Reviews
The Boss Katana Mini is a 7-watt combo amp that features a multi-stage analog gain circuit as well as three selectable and distinct voicings for flexibility and tonal variety. With a built-in EQ with three bands and a delay effect, you get plenty of choices for your practice sessions.
In case you want to play some metal, the Brown voicing offers a high-gain tone with tons of punch. For less aggressive rock tones, Crunch delivers overdriven tones that are great for rhythm. Last but not least, the Clean voicing offers an unsaturated tone with a broad dynamic range and can take pedals well.
At this size, this amp gives the user great convenience. It weighs less than three pounds and you get up to seven via six AA batteries. You can also power it using an optional AC adapter which you have to purchase separately.
Besides being fantastic for practicing, the BOSS Katana Mini is quite convenient for direct recording, as it features a speaker-emulated output. You can also do some silent practice via the headphone out. In case you want to jam along to a track, this small amp also features an Aux input for connecting a music player.
We tried this amp and went through all three voicings. Our favorite was Clean, as it let the true nature of our instrument come through. We also tried this voicing with several of our pedals, including our Tube Screamer. We got a great tone for an amp that is so small and at just 7 watts, it was perfect for practicing.
The Brown voicing was also great for working on some distortion parts. We got nice sustain and a punchy bite to our leads, with a nice dose of heaviness to our power chords. The tone here was aggressive, but remained with good note definition at all times.
Well-built and with the Katana quality that many guitarists love, this amp is a great choice for folks looking for great convenience without sacrificing quality and versatility.
Verdict: The Boss Katana Mini is a 7-watt combo amp that features three selectable voicings that range from clean to high gain, for flexibility and tonal variety. With features like a built-in EQ and a delay effect, this small amp has everything you need to practice with realism and great tone.
The Danelectro Honeytone N-10 is a mini amp that is as convenient as its easy to use. It comes with that Danelectro retro look and vibe and with a design that has the controls located on top of the amp. This mini amp comes with a belt clip that allows you to carry it around while you practice.
You can use Honeytone via the built-in speaker or with headphones via its headphone out located on the side for greater convenience. This amp is capable of producing 1.5 watts of power and comes in a 1 x 2.5” configuration.
It runs on a 9 V battery for complete portability, or you can also opt to plug it in via a power source that you must purchase separately. This amp features a volume knob, a single-tone knob for balancing your bass and treble, and an Overdrive knob that adds saturation to your tone.
We tried this diminutive amp with our Fender Strat and it gave us a good tone for such a small unit. This amp is quite simple and intended for practice, yet even at its reduced size, it offers some versatility thanks to the overdrive function.
In short, a good amp for beginners and those interested in a very small practice unit on a budget.
Verdict: The Danelectro Honeytone N-10 is a mini amp featuring a retro look and vibe and made for practicing at low volumes or using headphones. It comes with a belt clip that allows you to carry it on your pants or belt, and even offers overdrive, and is a good choice for beginners.
The Positive Grid Spark Mini is a portable amp that brings convenience and quality to practicing and intimate jam sessions. With 10 Watts of power and a dual-speaker design, this amp offers omnidirectional sound and four onboard presets that are expandable.
For superior convenience, the Spark Mini relies on a USB-rechargeable battery that can give you up to eight hours of continuous operation, and comes with Bluetooth compatibility with your mobile device. Besides practicing and jamming, you can also use this amp as an audio interface.
The controls on this amp are quite simple. You get just three knobs: Preset selects between Rhythm, Lead, Solo, and Custom voices. Then there’s a knob labeled Guitar to control the volume of your instrument and one labeled Music to control the level of playback or your chosen track.
This amp works in tandem with the Spark App which expands the number of sounds and control choices you get with this unit. The Spark app gives you access to amp, effect, and pedal emulations that add up to over 10,000 presets.
The app also includes a number of songs that you can learn. Additionally, it comes with a function named Smart Jam Live which relies on AI technology to deliver custom drum and bass backing tracks for your real-time playing. The Spark app also allows you to slow down songs and take them so you can learn them better before speeding them back up.
We tried this amp with our Fender Strat as well as our Takamine Acoustic. In both cases, it gave us a nice and natural tone with a remarkable bass response for such a small amp. In short, a superior small amp for folks looking to practice with quality and a fantastic set of features.
Verdict: The Positive Grid Spark Mini is a fantastic portable amp that offers a superior bass response. It works together with the Spark app to offer a vast variety of presets and comes with useful features like Bluetooth audio streaming, a built-in tuner, and more.
The Orange Crush Mini is a 3-watt micro combo designed with the iconic Orange look and tonal elements. It operates via a 9-volt battery or standard 9-volt pedal power supply and features three simple knobs for easy and convenient operation.
This amp comes with a Gain knob, EQ knob, and Volume knob, all of which are self-explanatory. The gain knob can take you from a gentle crunch to the famous orange bite that we all know, in this case, in just three Watts.
Other useful features on this amp include an onboard tuner, an 1/8″ aux input for connecting and an external player, and headphones out for silent practice. You even have the option of connecting to a bigger speaker via the included 8-ohm speaker output.
We tried this amp with our Fender Strat running through our pedal board. In clean, we got a nice practice tone that can work for a variety of styles. We also liked the warm overdrive that this amp gave us. We also tried this pedal with our Tube Screamer and a Boss Chorus, and it got the job done.
Our favorite thing about the Orange Crush Mini was how portable it is. At 1.99 lbs, you can take this amp anywhere and store it in tight spaces. In short, a good practice amp. However, it is too small to please folks looking for the true and loud Orange tone experience.
Verdict: The Orange Crush Mini is a 3-watt micro combo featuring the legendary Orange look and design elements. It works via a 9-volt battery and features three simple knobs for easy and convenient operation.
The Blackstar Debut 10E is a combo amp that gives you 10 Watts of power on a 2 x 3 speaker configuration. This amp comes with a volume knob, EQ knob and Delay effect knob.
While the volume knob is pretty straightforward, the EQ knob comes with Blackstar’s Infinite Shape Feature. With ISF, you get different gain levels as you turn the EQ knob, which is great for the sake of versatility.
The last knob gives you a tape-based delay effect that further adds to the versatility of this tiny amp. Right next you’ll find an MP3 input that allows you to plug in a music player of your preference.
Although this is useful, it is a bit dated, as many portable amps now come with Bluetooth connectivity to use your phone or tablet without the need for a cable.
We tried this amp with our Fender Strat plugged in straight. It gave us good sound for practicing with a nice analog feel to it. We particularly enjoyed the EQ knob as it also regulates gain, as mentioned above.
By turning this knob fully counterclockwise, we got tight lows and aggressive mids, reminding us of Fender amps. When we turned it all the way clockwise, for a rounder tone with less aggression.
Another great feature on this amp is the headphones out, as it lets you do silent practice at any time of the day, adding to the convenience factor of the Debut 10E. This 1/8″ output also doubles as a speaker-emulated output which you can connect to an audio interface or even a PA system.
In short, a good amp that gets the job done for practicing, with nice built quality and tone. Perhaps the next version of this amp can feature Bluetooth connectivity for even greater convenience.
Verdict: The Blackstar Debut 10E features 10 Watts on a 2 x 3 speaker configuration as well as a headphone out. This amp is a good choice for practicing and features a simple design with a volume knob, an EQ knob that also dials in gain, and a Delay effect knob.
The Vox Pathfinder 10 is 1 x 6.5″ combo amp that gives you 10 watts of power with the classic Vox look and feel. This amp comes with a simple four-knob design. With Volume, Treble, Bass, and Gain, you get all you need for effective practice for a variety of styles.
This mini Vox amplifier also comes with a switch that allows you to choose between clean sound to overdrive. This amp also features a headphone out that doubles as a line-out jack. It automatically mutes the amp’s speaker once you plug in your headphones or a cable out.
We tried this amp with our Gibson Les Paul. We got a round and nice clean tone that got us playing a variety of styles, from Jazz to Pop and beyond. With the Overdrive switch on, we got everything from warm saturation to a high-gain distortion that was great for practicing hard rock and metal.
This is a good-sounding amp for its size and comes with the looks and feel of a true Vox. As good as it is, at nearly a hundred dollars, there are other options that may have features that better fit you.
Verdict: The Vox Pathfinder 10 features a 1 x 6.5″ configuration and offers you 10 watts of power with iconic Vox look and feel. This solid-state combo amp comes with a 2-band EQ, volume, and overdrive switch that works with a gain knob. In short, you get all you need for effective practice for a variety of styles.
The Marshall MG10G is a 10-watt combo amp that comes with a custom 6.5″ speaker. It gives you British tone on a Clean and Overdrive channel and features a channel Contour control for tonal shaping.
The MG10G features a 1/8″ out for headphones, which doubles as a speaker-emulated Line Outs. You can use this line out to go directly to a PA or to your DAW for direct recording.
This small Marshall amp also features an Aux in to plug a phone or tablet, in case you want to transcribe a solo, jam along some backing tracks or just play with a recording. You’ll need a 1/8″ cable for this, and we wish it could be done with Bluetooth instead.
We tried this Marshall with our Gibson Les Paul. It does a great job for such a small amp, with a clear focus on convenience rather than tone. That said, we did get a good clean tone, as well as punchy distortion on the Overdrive channel.
We particularly liked the tone we got on the Overdrive Channel with the gain knob at 1 o’clock and the contour knob also at 1 o’clock. Here we got a nice bite that works great for rock and heavier blues solos, especially when using our bridge pickup on the Les Paul.
In conclusion, a good practice amp that is built with Marshall quality. Simple and easy to use, this is a good choice for players of all styles that need a practice amplifier.
Verdict: The Marshall MG10G gives you 10 watts of British tone in a nice combo amp for practicing. It features a custom 6.5″ speaker and a Clean and Overdrive channel and a contour knob for further versatility.
How To Choose The Best Small Guitar Amp For You
Whether you need a small amplifier for practicing in your room, or you are always on the go but still need to work on your playing, a mini amp takes care of the portability issue. Small amps or mini amps are lighter, easier to store and allow you to play without disturbing others.
However, because of their diminutive size, they come with fewer options and are unable to provide the tone that a 2 x 12 can. But if you get a good small amp, you will be able to practice with a good tone and enough options to work on different styles of music. Below we have a few things to look for when considering a small amp.
Battery-powered amplifiers are quite useful if you are always on the move. As convenient as a battery-powered model is, it is still important to have the possibility of connecting via an adapter or power cord. This is because batteries wear out and require constant charging or replacement.
Battery-powered amplifiers can give you several hours of active use, depending on the amp. You can practice or even jam outdoors, and be ready to play just about anywhere.
Effects and amp modeling
Most guitar players rely on a pedal board for effects or a digital processor/amp for modeling. However, carrying a pedal board around hinders the very idea of portability that a small amp provides.
This is part of the rationale for having small amps provide effects. At the very least, a small amp should be able to provide clean sound as well as saturated sound. Besides that, a simple equalizer, reverb, and even delay can be very useful.
Some small amps even offer amp modeling, often by pairing up with an app where you can manipulate parameters and edit them at will. Because most small amps are so tiny, they do not have the space for many knobs, never mind the processing power for effects and modeling, which is why the use of an app becomes necessary.
It then becomes a matter of what you need. If you are good with just clean and distortion, then most small and mini amps will do. However, if you would like to have several options of saturation, modulation and time effects, etc, then an amp that works in tandem with an app is a must.
Naturally, the quality of these effects is inferior to analog guitar pedals and top-notch digital modeling units. However, they can still be useful and are good if you take into account the price of the amp in question and how convenient it is.
Playing with tracks?
Playing with backing tracks, or jamming along a recording are two common ways to practice. For this to happen, the small amp must provide a way to connect a music player or mobile device. This is accomplished with a 1/8″ aux in or a Bluetooth connection.
Needless to say, a Bluetooth connection is far superior in terms of practicality. Nearly everybody has a smartphone or tablet that they use to reproduce music, tracks, etc. An amp that allows you to connect this via Bluetooth is more convenient than one that needs you to carry around a 1/8″ cable, although this last option is certainly better than nothing.
Truth is, music players are a thing of the past. Devices like iPods and mp3 players fell out of fashion a decade ago, so you’ll likely be using your mobile device. Take that into consideration.
Final Thoughts on The Best Small Guitar Amps
It is hard to overstate the importance of practice. However, what and how you practice is just as important as the practice itself. Besides the aspects of practice that you work on, it is also imperative to aim for good tone production, and the amp you use is key to achieving this.
Most practice amps tend to be small. In the past, that meant seriously sacrificing tone in the name of flexibility and convenience. Thanks to technology, that is no longer the case. Naturally, a sacrifice is still made, but it is not nearly as impactful as it used to be.
To recap our choices, the Boss Katana Mini is our top choice for this list. It comes in a 7-watt configuration that features a multi-stage analog gain circuit. This amp gives you three different voicings that allow you to practice clean and with saturation, so you can work on different styles and techniques.
The Danelectro Honeytone N-10 is our budget choice. With the beloved retro Danelectro look, this amp is quite small and very convenient, making it a great choice for beginners looking for something truly affordable.
Finally, the Positive Grid Spark Mini is our Editor’s Choice. This portable amp is for guitarists that seek quality and features and are willing to pay for it. It gives you 10 Watts of power and omnidirectional sound for a great tone while practicing.